Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Model City

I saw this cool Lego city at the model train show we went to this weekend. The skyscrapers mimic the ones in the downtown area. Unfortunately the lighting at the show was horrible, so no amount of adjusting my camera's setting would help the look of some of my pics. This is one of the best of the bunch. And as you can see our computer issues have been resolved so that I can upload photos to the blog. Now, back to the cooking!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Early Rising

My son woke me up at 5:00 this morning. Barely conscious, I dragged myself to his room to make sure he was fine. My husband, who by then was out of bed himself, said "Oh, he's fine. But he woke me at 4:30 to tell me he was hungry." I soon realized that we were not going back to bed anytime soon. Pretty disappointing, considering that I look forward to sleeping in until 7:00 on Saturdays and Sundays instead of my usual 6 a.m. wakeup. Yeah, I really do get up that early.

So I decided to make the best of things; take advantage of my early start time and work on some breakfast. Zoe was awake by then too and watched me as I made gluten-free, casein-free waffles. I got the recipe from Cooking Free, which is rapidly becoming one of my favorite cookbooks. Yesterday I picked up a waffle maker at Target and today I got the chance to use it. The waffles came out just right; light and crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. It was heaven on a plate.

Flamenco Dad and I got into a discussion about good toppings and preparations for the waffles. Of course, pure maple syrup is the topping of choice, but there are other options too. I thought maybe next time I'd try a warm strawberry topping, especially since it's strawberry season here. Also, there's a diner in the area that serves a bacon-pecan waffle that my husband wants me to try and replicate. But my favorite (which my husband thinks is absolutely insane) has got to be fried chicken, a shot of hot sauce, and a then splash of maple syrup. I think it's funny that my Southern-raised hubby has never had fried chicken and waffles. I know that it's an odd choice for breakfast; but when I tried this for the first time I was hooked.

Sorry there is no picture of my delicious waffles. We're still having computer issues. And also? We inhaled them so quickly I didn't even stop to think about getting the tripod and camera ready so early.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Technology is a Fickle Friend, Part Deux

You may recall that back in the fall I was having issues with getting my photos to upload onto Blogger. Once I updated to beta those issues were worked out. Now we are having other tech problems here at the hacienda, this time due to a power surge. Our computers (mine and the hubby's), which are currently networked to one another, are not speaking to each other. Flamenco Dad's computer does not have internet capability either--due to said surge--which sucks because his computer is the one where our photos are stored. That means that until we get that network thingy going again I can't post pics on this site. Bugger! Unless I can sweet talk my husband into getting me a thumb drive. Hmm, maybe I'm onto something...

Now that I've got a headache from all that computer talk, I can talk about my husband's cool gig this week. He was asked to play with the Florida Orchestra this week for two performances of music from the score of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This is great for two reasons: one, we LOVED those movies; and two, having an opportunity to play with the orchestra is a great experience. He's gotten to work with some great conductors when playing with this orchestra, and this time was no exception. Unfortunately I didn't get to see these performances due to a lack of a babysitter--people would tend to frown on the idea of me leaving my kids home with a block of soy cheese, rice crackers, and some Welch's grape juice. So I stayed home and watched Survivor and American Idol (thank you DVR) after I put the kids to bed. I baked a loaf of gfcf bread for Miss Z and thought about Frodo, Gandolf and company--guess which movies I'll be watching this weekend?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Please Pass the Tums

This weekend we visited the phenomenon which is the State Fair. Ever been to one? The carnival rides, the games, the cotton candy, the fried EVERYTHING? Sweet Jesus, it had been years since I'd been to a state fair, and I forgot how much artery-clogging naughtiness there is to be found there.

We actually went to the fair for a show: Zoe's performing arts school was doing a show at the fair. Yep, that's right: my baby performed on a real stage in front of lots of people. Her group was really adorable. They performed a number to "The Hard Knock Life" from Annie, complete with buckets, mops, brooms, and cute little orphan attire. We were a very proud flamenco family. Zoe is a natural-born performer!

After the performance and after helping the studio people wrap stuff up there, we were starving. Fair food is a tricky thing, but I managed to find a few things that Zoe was able to eat: shish-ka-bob and kettle corn. As for me, I went for the holy trifecta of fair food. I had my first corndog in about 10 years, a funnel cake (I truly cannot recall when I last had one), and a GIANT lemonade. My mother-in-law then bought a bag of fried pork rinds, the remnants of which are sitting in a sack on my kitchen counter.

Now all that wickedness did wreak havoc on my non-gluten-sensitive self, in case you were wondering. I remembered why I went 10 years without a corndog--the indigestion is brutal! But we successfully navigated a trip to the fair without Zoe getting sick on gluten or casein, which we are all quite happy about. And I got to see my kid kick butt on stage. Sweet!!

Friday, February 16, 2007


Two years ago my fabulous mom married a great guy in a beautiful, Valentine wedding. Naturally, I couldn't post this lovely picture in the same post as my pancakes--after all, my mother deserves way more than to share top billing with pancakes! So, Happy Anniversary to my mom and her husband. I hope you are blessed with many more years of love and adventure!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My Yummy Valentine

Today I was jonesin' for some pancakes. Actually I've been wanting pancakes for breakfast for several days now. While at the health food store this weekend I picked up some buckwheat flour; I was inspired by a post I remembered reading a while back on Free to Eat. I contacted Lynn for some advice on making these, consulted with my copy of the Joy of Cooking, and made a few modifications. And today I was rewarded with some scrumptous gfcf buckwheat pancakes. Zoe is not home from school yet to try them, but Ayden has already eaten two of them. Considering that he's 3, I thought he'd hate them: after all, how many three-year-olds out there like buckwheat? But he really enjoyed them, and told me that I was "a good cooker."

Gluten Free/Casein Free Buckwheat Pancakes

1 cup buckwheat flour

1/2 cup rice flour

1-1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. sugar

1-1/2 cup almond milk

3 Tbs. canola oil

3 Tbs. molasses

2 eggs

1/2 tsp. vanilla
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and whisk until combined--do not overmix. Pour by 1/4 cupfuls onto preheated and greased griddle. Serve hot with maple syrup.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

On The Mend

I am on the mend, after two months of dealing with what seemed like a never ending respiratory illness. It appears that a change made in medication triggered an allergic reaction that basically wreaked havoc on my lungs. Now that I am off the medication, my breathing has improved, and I'll be back to yelling at my kids in no time. As I told Lynn over at Free to Eat, my kids have been getting away with murder around here! LOL!

My stepfather is also improving, thank goodness. He actually spent close to two weeks in the hospital. The infection he contracted is a strain of staph infection, MRSA. It is what the medical community calls a "superbug" because it is resistant to many of the more commonly used antibiotics. Poor O now has to wear this apparatus--at least for the next two weeks or so--that supplies a steady stream of antibiotics to the affected area and keeps it closed to avoid a new infection. My stepfather actually has a hole in his side where this infection once lived. I cannot stress to people out there enough; if you have a wound that appears swollen or blister-like please get it checked out. This MRSA can eat away at flesh and rapidly travels throughout the body. It is also easily transmittable through casual contact; in fact, this illness is very commonly spread in hospitals. A hospital in Central Florida had about 40 people come down with it in the same hospital--only 6 people came in with the illness. Now that I've sufficiently scared everyone, I will say that my stepfather is getting better and stronger every day. He says he'll be back at the horse farm soon--he misses his babies.

My uncle also came home from the hospital, and he is feeling well. He has been placed on dialysis while doctors try to find a kidney for him. Members of the family who are physically able to be organ donors are being tested; and the hope is that someone will be able to either donate one to my uncle or give one to the organ bank. In the meantime, my uncle is resting at home and enjoying time with his grandsons while he waits for good news.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Use Your Noodle

Tonight my husband is working late, which means dinner for 4 at Casa de Flamenco. My hubby is a self-proclaimed carnivore; if a dish doesn't have copious amounts of meat in it, generally speaking he ain't interested. Since he wasn't going to be home this evening it was a good time to make this dish.

I had just a wee bit of leftover roast chicken from last night's meal, which I diced up. I soaked some rice noodles that I bought at the Asian market, and tossed that with the chicken, some stir fried onions, red and green peppers, garlic, celery, carrots, scallions, thai basil, and cilantro. I added to that some organic wheat-free tamari and thai sweet noodle sauce that I also picked up at the Asian market. I know it's a long list of ingredients, but the end result was tasty and lovely to look at (see photo). My children are more adept at using chopsticks than I am, so they went to town on this--and fast. I took a bit longer to eat my dinner but I enjoyed every bite of it.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Fluff Piece

After several days of being under the weather, it appears I have finally gotten my groove back and am in the kitchen again. I made these meringues because as much as I love them, I was not willing to pay five dollars a box for the ones I get at the natural foods store. I had all the ingredients on hand at home anyway, so I figured I should give them a try.

The only negative with making the meringues is that there is no such thing as instant gratification with them. You actually have to leave meringues in the oven overnight to finish crisping before you can eat them. Talk about an exercise in self restraint! These were wonderfully light, and the cocoa powder was a nice addition. I'll try the plain variety of these on my next go-around. This recipe comes from one of my favorite books, Special Diets for Special Kids by Lisa Lewis.

I took a cup of egg whites (I buy Liquid Eggs) and a pinch of salt and beat in a bowl until foamy, then added 1/4 cup unsweetended cocoa powder. Then I added 1/8 tsp. of cream of tartar, beating until peaks began to form. I then added a cup of sugar, gradually, until stiff peaks formed. I don't own a pastry bag or decorating tips (yet), so I put the mixture in a large Ziplock bag, cut a tiny hole in one corner, and piped them onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. I baked them at 250 for about 45 minutes, then turned off the oven and let them sit there overnight.

By the way, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BAKE THESE ON A RAINY OR HUMID DAY. They will turn all gummy and gross, definitely not good eats (Thank you Alton Brown). Remove from oven, keep in an airtight container--they'll last in there several days--and resist the urge to eat them all at one sitting.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Spicy Pineapple Chicken

I was browsing the Food Network site, looking for a different way to roast some chicken for dinner last night. Now it's no secret that I love pineapple--and tropical flavors in general--so when I found this recipe by the Two Hot Tamales, I knew I had found a perfect match.

I did not grill or broil the chicken, as the recipe recommends. I roasted the chicken pieces in a shallow pan at 450 degrees. I added some chopped red pepper and onion to the pan for some added color and flavors. In addition, I added some pineapple chunks to the roasting pan--a very tasty addition. It was delicious; served with a green salad, and it was a light, summery meal--not your typical winter fare.

Spicy Pineapple Marinade for Chicken
recipe from M.S. Milliken and S. Feniger

1/2 medium ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, coarsely chopped
2 jalapeno chilies, seeded, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon grated lime peel
8 chicken breast halves (with skin and bones)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons honey

Puree pineapple, jalapenos and garlic in blender until almost smooth. Add pineapple juice, lime juice, cilantro and lime peel and process until blended. Pour marinade into large glass baking dish. Add chicken, turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours.

Prepare barbecue or preheat broiler. Remove chicken from marinade. Season with salt and pepper. Pour 1/2 cup marinade into small bowl. Whisk in honey. Brush mixture over chicken. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Grill or broil until cooked through, turning frequently.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


I've missed posting on this blog for several days (eight days to be exact), and I'm down about it. There are several reasons, some big, some not-so-big. I promised a mac and cheese post, and I will deliver--just not today.

I got sick again (big shocker), which means I've been ill with respiratory stuff off and on since before Christmas. As a result, I'm in a funk. I really don't like being sick--who does?--and so I go into what we refer to here as "hermit mode." It's bad enough that I tend to get kind of depressed during the winter months, but when I feed like garbage it just exacerbates the problem.

What's got me even more stressed is that both my uncle and my stepfather are in the hospital, and since I don't live close to either of them I get very confusing information from third parties (mainly my mom and my cousin), and it's all hard to digest. My uncle has had diabetes his entire life, and after a heart attack he suffered last week, it was discovered that his kidney function is down to 10%. Therefore, he needs a new kidney--stat. Relatives are lining up to see if any can be a donor (either for my uncle or the donor bank). So far we've not been successful but are continuing to try. In the meantime, once he is well enough to go home after his heart procedure--the doctors put in a stint--he'll be on dialysis until a match is found.

My stepfather was put in the hospital yesterday because of a wound on his hip that has now become infected and has begun to spread. He is diabetic as well; and as many diabetics, his body sometimes does not heal properly after injury. He's on some monster antibiotics right now, and the doctors are evaluating him to see what needs to be done to stop the infection from spreading. My mother is not certain what type of infection it is, but apparently is began to move quickly (first it was his hip, but it now seems to be traveling up to his arm).

Meanwhile, all of us at Casa de Flamenco wait to hear some good news. I'm hoping to hear some soon. I'm praying I hear some soon.